Gian Carlo Menotti

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Menotti, Gian Carlo

 

Born July 7, 1911, in Cadegliano, Italy. American composer; founder of the modern American opera.

Although he has lived in the USA since 1928, Menotti has retained his Italian citizenship. He studied at the Milan Conservatory (1923-27) and at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (1927-33), where he began teaching in 1941. Menotti wrote the librettos for most of his operas, which are stylistically reminiscent of verismo. However, he has also composed atonal music.

Menotti was influenced by Verdi and Puccini, as well as by M. P. Mussorgsky, from whom he borrowed the practice of writing recitatives to express tense situations in the plot. Many of Menotti’s operas are distinguished by a combination of drama and humor. They are written for a small orchestra (an ensemble of soloists) and do not call for a chorus. Among his best operas are the one-act opera buffa Amelia Goes to the Ball (1936, Philadelphia), The Old Maid and the Thief (produced for radio, 1939; 1941, Philadelphia), The Island God (1942, New York), and The Medium, the most important production of which was staged in 1946 in New York. Also among his most outstanding operas are The Telephone (1947, New York), Amahl and the Night Visitors (television, 1951), The Consul (1950), Martin’s Lie (1964), and The Most Important Man in the World (1971). His other compositions include the ballet Sebastian (1943), the oratorio Death of the Bishop From Brindisi (1963), the symphonic poem Apocalypse (1951), concerti for piano (1945) and violin (1952), a triple concerto (1970), chamber ensembles, and various works for piano.